Today’s POP RESCUE review is Something’s Going On – the 1982 debut solo album from former ABBA vocalist, Frida. Is this an exciting Something, or will you need to send an S.O.S? Read on..
The album opens with Tell Me That It’s Over, which bursts open with the drums of Phil Collins (who also takes production and a writing credit on this album). It’s a rocker sound the usual safety that Frida has previously had, but her vocals are instantly familiar. The song belts out, perhaps as a reference to her divorce from Abba’s Benny Andersson.
It’s pretty chilled out for next track I See Red, with the slinky bass, and relaxed percussion and guitars. This results in a slower sound, that feels just a little too long, despite the track being only 4m 32s – it feels much longer as it kind of meanders along.
I Got Something is next, starting with some simple keys chords before Phil thwacks the drum kit a bit, leading into rock vocals, offset but breathy vocals a bit later in the chorus. “No other woman can do what I do” sings Frida repeatedly, and again it makes me wonder whether this is another ABBA reference.
Up next is Strangers, which gives Frida the perfect backdrop to show off her softer vocals as she sings alongside the gentle strum of a guitar. The percussion holds back with quiet rim shots and hi-hat. It’s quite a nice track.
Side One closes with single To Turn The Stone. A synth emerges, as electric guitars quietly whimper in the background. Eventually Frida arrives, and this vocally sounds like the Frida we’ve met before in vocal harmonies. Verse two picks up the pace, bringing this first side to a nice conclusion. This single failed to chart in the UK.
I Know There’s Something Going On, the title track and lead single is up next. This is a rocky affair, and absolutely reeks of stadium rock performances which dominated mid-80s music charts. Phil has a production and writing credit here, and his Genesis style influences really come across. Again, Frida’s powerful rock styled vocals pierce through the drums and roaring guitars. She sounds brilliant here, but the UK single-buying public disagreed, giving her a disappointing peak at #43!
Acoustic guitars lead us into next song Threnody. This ballad is quite a bouncy little simple song, and it’s softer vocals result in just a “nice” song. It sounds like something left over from a 70s folk album, but it’s actually a Dorothy Parker poem set to music by Per Gessle of Roxette.
Next is Baby Don’t You Cry No More, which opens with piano before Frida joins in, and it sounds like a wonderful combination. Suddenly, a burst of brass, and we’re into a really lovely sound. The track flows perfectly, and there’s a range of vocals her, that help show off Frida perfectly.
This is followed by The Way You Do, written by Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music. This is an upbeat pop song, and it serves as a nice contrast to the previous songs on this side. There’s a nice guitar solo and backing vocals, and it hangs together perfectly to the fade.
Penultimate track You Know What I Mean gives Phil his writing credit, and is actually a cover of his song from his Face Value album. The song opens with the delicate sound of harps being plucked, and are swiftly joined by Frida. As the song builds up to the chorus, they’re joined by a The Martyn Ford Orchestra. The result sounds like a song that Phil might have submitted to Disney. It works perfectly.
The drums, guitars, and tempo are back up for the closing track Here We’ll Stay, and Frida is joined by Phil Collins on main vocals. A solo version of this song was released as a single but flopped, scraping in the singles chart at #100. This duet is a really catchy song, but despite this, it’s original artist Sonia Jones failed to get it selected for the Eurovision Song Contest two years previously. Here though, it is punctuated by an almost disco sound, and it feels like the perfectly upbeat way to end this album and their partnership on this album. I think that had it remained as a duet with Phil and was released as a single, it could have faired much better.
Over all, if you’re expecting to live ABBA on through this album, then you’re going to be disappointed. It’s a break away from that sound, and a conscious one at that. Frida’s vocals really make those rockier sounds shine, and her performance is flawless in the softer, slower tracks too.
There are some really good tracks in the singles, and the duet with Phil works a treat, but elsewhere it just lacks enough inspiration and energy to stand out.
- POP RESCUE 2020 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1982 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #18, certified Silver by the BPI
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Marie Curie store.